Continuing the wave of international hi-tech companies increasing their investments in Israel, HP Indigo said Monday it would enhance its Israel work force by 10 percent this year. "We forecast a significant rise in our business activity this year and will grow our employees from 1,300 to 1,450 workers," said Alon Bar Shany, General Manager of HP Indigo division. "Along with this, we will continue to expand our Rehovot facility, which saw 5,000 square meters added last year." Bar Shany said a majority of the new recruits would be absorbed into the R&D operations of the digital print systems unit of HP Indigo. The expansion of the Rehovot facility would encompass the building of laboratories, two new production rooms, and a training center for new employees, which would include a 120-seat auditorium and computer equipped classrooms. The company said it also would establish its 'HP Halo Collaboration Studio' on the campus, which will allow teams in dispersed locations to cooperate with each other on projects. HP's announcement follows a similar commitment made by Applied Materials CEO Mike Splinter earlier this year to "hire hundreds" in Israel in 2006 and comes a day before the official groundbreaking ceremony of Intel's new plant 'Fab 28' in Kiryat Gat, which is expected to boost employment at the chipmakers Israel operation by some 4,000 positions. Israel Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosch said the government has worked hard to create favorable conditions for international companies operating in the country. "The result is that last year we saw a real investment by foreign companies of around $5.5 billion in Israel, and it's looking very promising that this trend will continue in 2006," Brosch said. "Given the tax benefits and other programs in place, we are sure that other companies will see what companies like Intel and HP have done and follow suit." Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor said Monday some 200 representatives from Japanese companies would visit Israel during the course of building Intel's Fab 28 factory, to take part in its establishment.